Exclusive Interview on “Hebrew Hammer vs. Hitler”: Blowing Away Mel Gibson

This is a guest post by Aaron Maccabee.  Aaron is a fiercely pro-Israel jew with a passion for martial arts, blues and hip-hop, sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, and the TV show “Breaking Bad”. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, He’ll be attending the University of Minnesota through PSEO this Fall. Like the Hebrew Hammer, he’s a trying to do some good, helping brothers in the Chood. . . Can you dig it?

Adam Golberg as the Hebrew Hammer. “Stay Jewish!” Photo by Jessica Miglio

I’ll be honest. I’m a huge fan of the Jewish cult film classic, “The Hebrew Hammer.” Last week I sat down with writer and director Jonathan Kesselman, to talk about his upcoming sequel, “The Hebrew Hammer vs. Hitler”.
Kesselman is a leader in a movement to redefine the modern Jewish identity as something that’s strong, hip, and proud. Rather than preaching this message, Kesselman is a master of the film genre known as “Jewsploitation,” which exposes the absurdity of common Jewish stereotypes through satire.
Kessleman’s unique and aggressive stereotype-busting can be seen in this iconic scene from the first Hebrew Hammer movie. The clip is also the origin of the Hebrew Hammer’s Die-Hardesque battle cry/catchphrase of “Shabbat Shalom Mother Fuckers!” (see if you can spot the gem of a cameo by Mel Van Peebles)
The first “Hebrew Hammer” film dealt with a battle between good and evil, where the Hebrew Hammer joined forces with the leader of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, Mohammed Ali Paula Abdul Rahim (Mo) to save Chanukah from total destruction by an evil Santa.
Basically…low stakes. Chanukah isn’t even a high holiday, but it is funnier than Yom Kippur.
The sequel takes “The Hebrew Hammer” to new heights. He’s now forced to battle against the ultimate villain, Adolf Hitler, in order to save the world and prevent the utter destruction of Jewish history.

Check out TCJewfolk’s exclusive interview with Jonathan Kesselman where he talks about “The Hebrew Hammer” sequel, Nazi ass kicking and Hammer’s pick for President. Read the highlights of the interview here, then watch the best moments with Jonathan Kessleman on YouTube.

Aaron Maccabee (AM): Could you tell us a little bit about Hebrew Hammer 2?

Jonathan Kesselman

Jonathan Kesselman (JK):The Hebrew Hammer vs Hitler” is the name of the movie. It involves time travel/time Sukkah…it involves Hitler and the rewriting of Jewish history. Hammer and Mo have to go back in time to stop Hitler from rewriting Jewish history (literally). And it’s really good and really funny.
AM: What is your goal in creating the movie?
JK: To make people laugh. How’s that? (big smile). Nah, I want to finish a chapter in the Hebrew Hammer. I’m very excited about the sequel, its very funny. And the movie doesn’t die, so I figure I shouldn’t die until I make it.
AM: After reading the script it seems that Hebrew Hammer 2 may be even MORE controversial than the first. What do you say to those people who take offense at this film?
JK: Don’t see it. But for people who like to laugh and have a good sense of humor, you should see the movie.
AM: I’ve heard that in Hebrew Hammer 2 there is a hilarious opening scene involving the Hebrew Hammer, Mel Gibson and some high-powered weapons…could you elaborate?
JK: (Chuckles) Yes, the opening of the movie. I reenact the Mel Gibson at Moonshadows (restaurant), when he was pulled over by a Jewish cop and blamed all the wars on the Jews. This time however The Hebrew Hammer pulls him over, and he (Mel) gets shot in the face with a Star of David semiautomatic machine gun…Actually it’s not a gun, it’s a hand cannon. I need to be more specific; it’s a handcannon not an automatic machine gun. That would be cruel (mazik smile).
We reached out to Mel originally over at Icon and he had heard about the sequel and I guess it went through his people, and they said there’s no way in hell that Mel will do it. So I’ll have to get a look alike…(corrects himself) well actually I’m gonna get a better actor than Mel Gibson.
This is the cold open of the movie, I always like having a fun sort of Hammer opening…big superhero opening.
AM: Any female Jewish badassary in Hebrew Hammer 2?
JK: Let’s just say that Anne Frank is a character who kicks ass. Judy Greer will be back for her part as Esther. Yeah, there’s some female badassary going on I believe, yeah.
AM: What/who inspired you to be come a screenwriter?

Adam Goldberg as the Hebrew Hammer. Photo by Jessica Miglio

JK: In terms of comedy, it was Your Show of Shows. But it was all the greats, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner…in terms of this stuff, its Mel Brooks mixed with the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrams (Top Secret, Airplane!). I loved that stuff growing up. I loved fast paced, irreverent, envelope pushing comedy.
AM: Was there any improvisation in Hebrew Hammer?
JK: The Hebrew Hammer had improv, and there will be improv in the sequel. I love allowing for improv. You get really funny, brilliant people and whoever is making the scene better or funnier…improv is like icing on the cake. You get some really great moments in improv. I like to allow for it.
AM: Would the Hebrew Hammer vote for Obama?
JK: Hell yeah, he’d vote for Obama. The Hebrew Hammer would f-ckin vote for Obama, cuz I’m voting for Obama…the Hebrew Hammer is voting for Obama. Hell yeah.
AM: How do you stay on the line between affectionately parodying Jews rather than stepping over the line into mockery and insult?
JK: I think that in great comedy the line is supposed to be pushed. You don’t push the line then…you’re not making great comedy, you’re not making art. That line is for pushing. The audience will tell me when the line should be pulled back, and I’ll know to. There’s a fine line with the line.
AM: In this movie, Hebrew Hammer and Mo travel back in time to the time of the Holocaust. Can we expect some major Nazi ass kicking?
JK: You are gonna see the best Nazi ass kicking in the history of film, in my movie. You’re gonna see Mel Gibson get shot in the face first off…you could turn the movie off after the first few minutes and I would be happy.
AM: Which celebrities would like to appear as cameos in Hebrew Hammer 2?
JK: You know what I’d love to do, I wrote this scene…the disciples…Jesus’ posse…I wanted that to be all of the great living old time Jewish comics. So there’s a lot of people I’d like to go after and get. Just let everybody shine and have a moment, and show where it all started for me at least.
AM: When do you hope to release the movie?
JK: Well, from the time I get funding in place it will take me about 3-4 months – depending on weather and when I want to shoot – to be in production. It would be done within 6 or 7 months, and then it would be ready to give to the peoples. So just depends on when I get financing, and I’m actively looking for financing.
AM: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
I need your help. I really want to make this movie. I think it’s a movie that will make a lot of people happy. I don’t know how to get it made. I now have the rights. If you have a friend in finance or a rich relative or someone who would be interested in doing something like this…it’s not much money…and it will be a part of Jewish history.

Watch the best moments of TC Jewfolk Correspondent Aaron Maccabee’s interview with Jonathan Kesselman on Youtube here: